Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

December 31, 2012

Resolutions for 2013 and For Our Children

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 11:04 pm
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I will leave the complex debates that recent events have not unexpectedly provoked about what does and does not belong in our schools to politicians and commentators.  As 2012 comes to a close, there are three things I believe each and every adult can resolve to keep out of schools and homes to make them better, safer, healthier places for children.  Humiliation, vengeance, and hopelessness, powerful, crushing phenomenon, damage children’s spirits and darken their lives. We may not have the power to eliminate these potentially deadly experiences from children’s lives.  As parents and educators, we can at least commit to not being responsible for bringing them into our classrooms or homes.


In too many classrooms, at too many dinner tables, children’s work and efforts are belittled.  They are shamed with words and actions that say “you are nothing, and I’m going to say it out loud so everyone can hear”. I am cynical enough to realize that we cannot create humiliation-free schools.  Fast running 5th graders will undoubtedly tease slow-poke 2nd graders.  The best speller will snicker when a peer flubs an “easy word”, and teens will find no end of reasons to embarrass their less than stylish peers. Well-meaning parents and educators may feel that shining a public light on failures teaches important lessons – builds character and motivates through harsh words.  After all, the world will not congratulate shoddy work.  Medals aren’t given to everyone in the real world. Children do need to learn that their choices have consequences and that their mistakes matter.  I believe adults are too smart to believe that the only way to teach these important lessons is through humiliation. This is a lazy answer, and no way to teach or parent.


Sometimes, humiliation of students and children, rationalized as a teaching tool, is an outgrowth of anger; a means of vengeance. Reflective and perceptive teachers and parents will admit to letting their anger at a child’s actions lead to vengeful and punitive responses.  “After what she did to me, I’m not going to let her get away with that”, reveals this type of attitude. “He deserves to fail for how he treated me” is another example. Revenge will find its way onto playgrounds and chat rooms.  Adults may be powerless when revenge fuels deadly school violence, but they are perfectly capable of leaving their own hurt feelings out of their contact with children.  No matter what children or teenagers do to teachers or parents – we are the grown-ups and that means growing up and learning revenge is a dish best not served to children.


This past year, frankly these past few months, it is easy to feel beat down.  We’ve been battered by monster storms, watched markets rise and fall and heard too many bells toll for little lives cut too short.  In our schools and in our homes we are asked to do more with less, to bounce back from trauma and move beyond tragedy.  In more mundane ways, we confront the student who even after 30 tries, can’t remember 4 times six, or the child who has yet to master tying his shoes.  It is so easy to convey, in our drooped shoulders and heavy sighs a paralyzed and paralyzing hopelessness.  Sometimes, in our impatience, we utter an “you’ll never . . . “ or “oh, it’s useless” comment, sending children the devastating message that what now is will forever be. The natural tendency of children is to be limited with the tunnel vision of now.  They are so unable to see beyond the darkness of today, to believe that they will grow and change, and that tomorrow holds not just a slim promise but an almost certainly of difference.  It is our job and the greatest gift we give children – to share with them the hopefulness of our perspective, the unerring belief in possibilities, the ability to see, in them, all that is wonderful, amazing, and ever-changing.


I know there is much to be done to help every school and every home become places of learning, growth and safety for children.  I know that as I sit at a quiet dinner with friends, any New Year’s resolutions I make will be a drop in the bucket.  But if adults, teachers and parents, could resolve to do their part to keep humiliation, vengeance and hopelessness out of children’s lives, it would be a much happier New Year for our young charges who may be asleep before the clock strikes 2013, but whose dreams fill the night.



1 Comment »

  1. […] Resolutions for 2013 and For Our Children ( […]

    Pingback by Children Are Amazing « L.E.G.A.C.Y. — January 2, 2013 @ 5:08 pm |Reply

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